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Michael Crockatt Human Geography Alumni

Briefly, tell us about your job. What do you find most rewarding? What are your greatest challenges within this profession?

I am president and chief executive officer of Ottawa Tourism, which is the destination marketing organization for Canada’s capital. We are a team of 34 sales and marketing professionals tasked with promoting visitation to Ottawa. As a relatively new president and CEO, every day is a learning opportunity. I enjoy the challenge of balancing the needs of numerous stakeholders. The most rewarding aspect of this position is that our team is actively and measurably contributing to economic development in our community, and it is achieved through strong alignment with our partners.

What experiences and activities helped you to map out your career pathway?

I was fortunate to have worked with bosses that allowed me to have experiences and involvement outside the day-to-day responsibilities of my job. I regularly volunteered for projects, for community related initiatives and for involvement in business and industry groups. 

As a student, did you see yourself in your current career? What stayed the same and/or changed? 

The short answer is no, I did not see myself in this type of position, especially at the beginning of my academic career. I learned quickly that I was much better off pursuing academic courses in which I had a personal interest. Through the rest of my undergraduate degree in human geography and then my master’s program in geography, a career in transportation became a clear path for me. I pursued that path for over 15 years with the University of Manitoba Transport Institute, the Winnipeg Airports Authority and the Ottawa International Airport Authority. 

Throughout my career, I became more and more involved in the tourism sector (as it is closely related to the aviation sector). In 2015, I left the airport world and joined an aviation, transportation and tourism consulting firm, which gave me new experiences and deepened my involvement in tourism. When this position with Ottawa Tourism became available, I knew I had to go for it and I have now made the transition from aviation to tourism. 

What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in human geography?

Go in with your eyes open for new opportunities, new experiences and new people that will help guide your career decisions. Any early career success I had was assisted by the connections I made in my academic career. 

What job search advice do you have for students and recent graduates?

It is never too early to start developing a network. Take every chance you get to interact with people who are already working in your field. 

Tell us a fun fact about your career path.

Travel and transportation is in my blood. My father and both of my grandfathers worked in the transportation industry.

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